Active listening can help make the other person feel more comfortable and cared for in the conversation. “This kind of an approach promotes the experience of safety for another person,” psychologist and communications expert Joan Rosenberg, Ph.D., says. “And when someone feels safer and understood, they open up.”

A 2012 study published in the Journal of the American Board of Family Medicine found patients feel more supported and in control when physicians implemented active listening skills. While active listening is vital in a patient-physician setting, it’s just as important in other relationships, including romantic, professional, familial, or friendly. 

“When used in close relationships, active listening can foster an even deeper level of emotional intimacy,” Leeds says. “Essentially, it provides the speaker with the space and attunement to be able to be vulnerable, which can enhance relationships both in times of peace as well as conflict.”